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Israel pounds Gaza after blast injures soldiers

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Jerusalem, Feb 18 (IANS) The Israeli military on Sunday announced that it carried out strikes against 18 Hamas targets in Gaza in response to an explosive device that injured four soldiers along the fence between Israel and the Palestinian enclave.

Palestinian medical sources said that at least two youths were killed in the strikes on Saturday night, reports Xinhua news agency.

An Israeli military spokesperson said the strikes that continued into the early hours of Sunday, were in retaliation to an explosive that denotated near the fence when a military patrol arrived to remove a "suspicious flag".

Four soldiers were injured.

Shortly later, the Israeli air force launched a large-scale attack.

"The IDF (Israel Defense Forces) views with great severity the incident.

"The Hamas terror organisation is accountable for this incident and its consequences, as well as everything happening in and from the Gaza Strip, above and below ground," the spokesperson added.